Sports Nutrition

on is vital for performance, whether you’re

a professional athlete or a weekend warrior.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend

2.5–4 serves from the dairy food group per day for

a variety of health benefits. For athletes and active

Australians, dairy foods offer extra benefits. They’re

known for their calcium content, but are also high in

protein and can be a great source of electrolytes for

rehydration. This unique composition means milk,

cheese and yoghurt can be used as targeted sports

foods in a range of situations around exercise.

BEFORE EXERCISE

Although individual goals vary, a pre-exercise meal

or snack usually aims to top up carbohydrate stores

in the muscle and optimise hydration. Hydration is

particularly important in hot conditions, as dehydration

can reduce performance and increase perceived effort

or discomfort associated with exercise.

When planning what to eat before activity, it’s

important to choose foods that are familiar and easily

digested to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort. Dairy

foods like flavoured milk, ye and are low in fibre,

helping to maximise gut comfort.

Some athletes worry that dairy foods before sport

will cause gut problems - but recent research has

debunked this myth. A study in competitive female

cyclists compared gut comfort and performance when

they ate either a breakfast containing three serves of

dairy or January 2018ilar meal that was dairy free. The study

found there were no negative effects on gut comfort

or sporting performance – even with daily da

iry

recommendations concentrated into a single meal

before a strenuous cycling workout.

There may also be some benefits to bones from a

rich source of calcium just before activity, especially

in activities like cycling which don’t provide the

bone-building benefits of high-impact exercise.

RECOVERY

The period following exercise is an opportunity to

replenish the body and allow it to recover and adapt.

Athletes may need:

fluid and electrolytes if rehydration is required;

carbohydrate to refuel muscles; and

high-quality protein to promote muscle recovery

and regeneration.

When there’s only a small amount of time (less

than eight hours) between hard training sessions or

competitive events, it’s usually a good idea to have a

meal or snack in the 30-60 minutes after exercise. This

provides muscles with the building blocks needed for

effective recovery. When there is more time between

bouts of exercise, it’s less critical to start the recovery

process immediately and your next scheduled meal or

snack can provide the necessary nutrients.

Milk, cheese and yoghurt can contribute to several

recovery goals by providing valuable amounts of the

important nutrients.

TIP:

Ensure recovery foods are on hand when you need

them by using an insulated lunch box or freezer pack to

keep foods chilled, or trying UHT products.

Rehydrate

For effective rehydration, fluid needs to be taken

in adequate volumes to replace sweat losses. This

amount will vary between individuals and depends on

factors including the type of exercise and environmental

 

Good nutrition is vital for performance, whether you’re a professional athlete or a weekend warrior.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend 2.5–4 serves from the dairy food group per day for a variety of health benefits. For athletes and active Australians, dairy foods offer extra benefits. They’re known for their calcium content, but are also high in protein and can be a great source of electrolytes for rehydration. This unique composition means milk, cheese and yoghurt can be used as targeted sports foods in a range of situations around exercise.
 
For further information on sports nutrition consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian or the Sports Dietitians Association.
 
Nutrition Australia would like to acknowledge Dairy Australia as the original author of this resource.
 
Published: January 2018
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